How To Create The Future
"Designers, visualization researchers, and human-computer-interaction experts are in short supply. We've done an awesome job over the past decade of developing technology to collect and process data, and yet the most popular tool on a biologist's desktop is Excel."
"My work has been heavily influenced by several close collaborations with designers, who help me design and create tools. For example, one of them, Pathline, integrates information about how genes work together in a cell with measurements of gene activity levels over time in multiple related species. That's all charted in various ways."
"In talking with biologists, I often reach dead ends as I try to learn about their work flows and scientific problems. We get stuck in some deep discussion about the nuances of their research, so I try to back up and discuss something different to help me better calibrate their needs. Keep a user talking for as long as possible; the more they talk, the more likely you are to hit on an idea that you can run with."
Finished undergraduate degree in Astronomy at Penn State
Took a computer graphics class that made her decide to study computer science at grad school
Won the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Mass Media Fellowship; worked as a science writer at the Chicago Tribune
Completed PhD and began postdoc work at Harvard University
Deployed first biological data visualization tool, MizBee
Named to MIT Technology Review's TR35
Started position as assistant professor of computer science at the University of Utah
Illustration by Alison Cowles
A version of this article appears in the June 2012 issue of Fast Company.